As a child in her native Brazil Rachel Pinheiro would sew 'avant-garde' outfits for her Barbie doll and dream of being a fashion designer. The dream faded as Rachel forged a successful career in the corporate world. But in 2009 she started to sew again, making her own clothes and documenting the journey in her blog, House of Pinheiro. Ten years on and she's at the forefront of a flourishing Maker Movement in the UK which has style and sustainability at its heart._We thought we'd catch up with the Brazilian seamstress for a little sew and tell...
How did you get started making your own clothes?I always loved fashion and the idea of designing and making my own clothes. Life happens and suddenly you are too busy so some dreams get pushed away by other priorities. However 10 years ago the stars aligned and I had the perfect opportunity to emerge myself into an amazing community of makers.
It feels like a hassle, no?Not at all. It is an amazing hobby. It’s really empowering. It’s like having a superpower. The sewing process is easy but like any skill it requires practice. You can take it as far as you want by making everything from jeans, leather coats to your shoes. Or keep it simple like changing buttons, adding trims and repurposing something to give it a new lease of life. If I can't find something I like or that fits me I can just make it. How cool is that!
It must be very eco-friendly is that your reason for doing it?Honestly, it wasn't my initial motivation but as you educate yourself on how clothes are made, how fast-fashion production techniques affect the environment, how people are put in danger so companies can maximise profits you gain appreciation and respect and take some responsibility for yourself. Cheap clothes aren't cheap. Knowing how my fabrics are been made became an important question.
Where do you get your inspiration from?Clothes are visual stories, so a lot of my choices come from an emotion, a point of view I want to put across. My own lifestyle. There is an overload of information right now so making something that no one has really appeals to me.
Favourite item you’ve made?This is a really hard question because I have clothes that were rites of passage. First coat, first jeans, first time conquering a new level of quality. So whatever I’m wearing on rotation is my current favourite.
Do you ever use preloved clothes as a source of material?I have but mainly I make simple adjustments. I’m 6ft tall which means I have to change the hem of most of my RTW clothes.
Denim is an amazing fabric, full of opportunities to make something amazing instead of sending it to landfill. Sadly the ugly side of fashion is the 'trends.' The idea that you always have to wear something 'new' which leads people to discard items because they aren’t fashionable.
How would you describe your style?Open to ideas. There are elements that will always be present like tailoring and my choice of fabrics as they need to be easy to care and comfortable on the skin.
Worst fashion mistake?I once wore everything orange neon, including my sandals, for a casual day at work! I worked as a buyer at IBM at the time, not a creative job. It was a wonderful environment and no one batted an eye. Bless my team!
Fav fashion brand?I don't have one. I buy quality instead of quantity. If I find a piece of clothing I really like I invest I don’t look at the brand.
How do you relax?
I swim 3 km a day before work and at the weekends me and my husband tend our allotment. My husband cooks amazingly and we both enjoy a quieter life. He has his sports and I have my sewing machine. It’s really a party!
Life motto?NO, you already have. Go find the YES!
Guilty pleasure?I eat cake every day. I have a private Instagram to prove it. Lol, I have a sewing Instagram for my handmade clothes and making process techniques (@houseofpinheiro) while keeping everything else that drives people nuts (food, holidays, swimming practice) private to torture only my friends and family.
Last book you’ve read?Audiobooks are perfect for people like me that love stories but need to keep active and moving. Ben Aaronovitch has the most amazing series, Rivers of London which I cannot wait for the next one in January. The book I just recently finished was Phillip Pullman's Book of Dust Volume 2 - The Secret Commonwealth.
Check-out the House of Pinheiro blog here.
And you can find Rachel on Instagram @houseofpinheiro